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Opinion

Five talking points from the British Grand Prix

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2nd August, 2020
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A snoozefest that awoke us all with two final exciting laps, there is as always plenty to discuss after the fourth round of the 2020 F1 season. Let’s get to it.

Hamilton is the luckiest F1 driver in F1 history
Okay, come at me, Lewis Hamilton fans. I’m ready for a barrage of abuse. But Hamilton is officially the luckiest F1 driver in the history of the sport.

It took a last lap blowout of his front left tyre to prove this, but the guy can have a failure and somehow still come home to win a race. If that’s not proof, then nothing is.

This isn’t the first instance of this either. Hamilton has had a ridiculous amount of luck throughout his career, too much to mention, and that is part of why I will always stand firm on his records never amounting to the same as those that he is breaking along the way.

Mexican Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton

(Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Numerous other cliché points can be added there, including the usual “he has never had a bad car” argument (a strong argument), but name one other F1 driver in the history of the sport who has had the oodles of luck he has had spread throughout his career? Waiting… waiting… Bueller? Bueller?

As the great Murray Walker famously said: “if is F1 spelt backwards,” and I have to use that right now to wonder just what if so many things had gone against Hamilton like they usually do for the majority of the all-time greats.

Some may call this a testament to his greatness that he always finds himself in a position for such luck. I for one can’t.

Verstappen was right to pit
The decision to pit Max Verstappen after Valtteri Bottas had a puncture was definitely the right decision and one that, although in hindsight cost him a victory, very much secured him second place.

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With the amount of incidents occurring around tyres in the closing stages, it was impossible to tell just who would suffer a puncture. Pitting Verstappen in order to secure a vital podium was the most intelligent decision over keeping him out on the hope that Hamilton would suffer a similar problem.

Who is to say Verstappen wouldn’t have had exactly the same thing occur to him? I would be then sitting here bemoaning the poor decision making by Red Bull and saying how he should’ve pitted.

Remember Nurburgring 2005? McLaren risked it to get the biscuit with Kimi Raikkonen, who then suffered a spectacular blowout that cost him not on the win, but vital points that in hindsight could’ve cost him the championship that year.

Sure, Verstappen is nowhere near challenging for the title in 2020, but 19 points after getting the fastest lap is a lot more important than risking zero at all. Just ask Bottas.

Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The return of the black and white flag
Can somebody please point out to me the last time we had the use of the black and white flag on so many occasions in a race? I for one am struggling to remember.

Both Romain Grosjean and Lance Stroll received one after moving off the line late in defending their positions during the race, and both came at interesting points. For Grosjean, the first one was a bit on the line in terms of getting one, the second move was by far worse and deserved one easily.

Stroll? Well, taking off my biased glasses (or partisanship ones as I have been referred to in the past), that was a little harsh. Stroll barely moved off the line and was right to defend the position in a clearer safe move than any of Grosjean’s.

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The main reason I bring this up is to point out that there have been far worse moves in recent times than any in this race, yet the flags apparently didn’t warrant an appearance. Verstappen could’ve banked a United Nations worth of flags for half of the moves he made at the beginning of his career, but apparently they just didn’t exist back then. How is this so?

I understand that each race is generally officiated by a different driver on the stewards panel, but it opens up the lack of consistency over stewarding that so often follows our favourite sport. Perhaps it’s time for the FIA to permanently implement a full-time steward that goes to each race, in the same way that Bernd Maylander is the permanent safety car driver?

Hulken-back, Hulken-out
Oh Nico Hulkenberg. What a joy it was to see you return but then what a tragedy it was to see you fail to even make the start of the race.

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Hulkenberg not being on the grid is a travesty, a point Verstappen also echoed in the last week, and having him fill in for the COVID-positive Sergio Perez was an absolute no-brainer. But just as Hamilton is coated in luck, Hulkenberg once again proves that he is coated in the opposite varnish, and he couldn’t even make the grid on race day. Poor, poor Hulkenberg.

It looks likely he’ll be on the grid next weekend given the rules around Perez and his COVID-positive status. Let’s just hope that he can get things sorted and finally get that chance to show the sport what they are missing by having him on the grid.

Stroll and Latifi watch: nothing to see here
The chances this weekend for my man Lance Stroll looked very promising.

Lance Stroll

(Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Thrust into the leader role at Racing Point, he was very pacey on Friday and even topped second practice. It was going to be great, right? Well, after losing time on Saturday to qualify sixth, the usually great starter got off to a poor start and struggled for pace all race to limp home a lucky ninth due to the late problems for Bottas and Carlos Sainz in a race that ultimately he should’ve finished 11th in.

He did very well in defending positions for large portions of the race, but he’ll be baffled as to why he lost so much pace in a car that was looking very good at the beginning of the weekend.

For Nicholas Latifi, the good news is that he didn’t finish last and he overtook a world champion. That is definitely a positive for the young rookie.

Sure, Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo was having issues, but in 20 years’ time he can always show his kids footage of him overtaking one of the all-time greats of the sport. That’s a positive, and one that he can take away in what continues to be a difficult year for him and Williams as a whole.

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Another short turnaround as Formula One stays at Silverstone for maybe the worst titled race in the history of the sport, the 70th anniversary Grand Prix. Let’s just hope it gives us more than two laps of good racing.